Nalbandian bows out; Blake advances

Basel, October 25:

David Nalbandian lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round of the Swiss Indoors on Wednesday, three days after winning the Madrid Masters by ousting the world’s top three players. Wawrinka won 7-6 (5), 6-2 to extend his winning streak against Nalbandian to four matches. James Blake advanced to the second round by beating Oscar Hernandez 6-3, 6-4.

Nalbandian last week beat No 2 Rafael Nadal, No 3 Novak Djokovic and No 1 Roger Federer in Madrid, becoming only the second player since 1994 to beat the top three players in the same week. Djokovic accomplished the feat earlier this year.

The fourth-seeded Blake is one of 20 players seeking to clinch one of the last three spots remaining at the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai next month. The American reached the final last year but lost to Federer.

Blake has to overtake two players to qualify for the Masters Cup. Next week’s Paris Masters is the last event of the year before the Shanghai event. If Blake makes the semi-finals in Basel, he would pull into a tie for eighth place, the last to yield a spot in Shanghai.

Five players have already qualified for Shanghai: Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Andy Roddick.

Two other players who are competing for spots at the Masters Cup also advanced at the Swiss Indoors. Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, and Guillermo Canas defeated Jose Acasuso 6-4, 6-3.

Also, qualifier Andrey Golubev upset Amer Delic 6-4, 6-3 and Juan Martin Del Potro advanced when Michael Russell retired with an upset stomach while trailing 5-2. Del Potro next faces Federer.